Massachusetts is home to two Native American tribes that qualify as federally recognized entities:
- Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe
- Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah)
So far, only the Mashpees have moved to secure a compact with the folks in Boston. The tribe received federal recognition in 2007, and moved quickly to declare 321 acres near Taunton as its reservation lands. Of the 321 acres in the trust, 151 were approved for gambling use. The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe broke ground on the First Light Resort and Casino in April 2016, and the stage was set for the fourth Massachusetts casino. However, nearly seven years later, no more progress has been made on the casino’s construction. A legal battle has been brewing for several years, and it remains to be seen when First Light Resort and Casino will open. If the legal challenges continue long enough, the DOI policy could change again depending on who is sworn into office on Jan. 20, 2025.
Meanwhile, the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) has not been as dogged in its pursuit of an agreement with the state. Instead, it has moved to create a bingo facility on tribal lands. Of course, the government sued this tribe, too — this time, it was the city government of Aquinnah — claiming that a 1983 land agreement nullified the tribe’s ability to offer gambling. After some arguing in court, the tribe prevailed in 2018 and began moving forward with its plans. However, the town remained undeterred and has kept the project tied up in court ever since with any issues that it could find. It now appears that the tribe will be able to build the venue, albeit with some approvals from the powers that be.